REPORT: ‘No case’ for Government to progress second Brighton Mainline

Brighton Station SUS-160526-170941001
Brighton Station SUS-160526-170941001

A study looking at a second Brighton Mainline has concluded there is currently ‘no case’ for the Government to take the scheme forward.

Campaigners been lobbying the Government to re-open the railway line through Uckfield to increase capacity as a way of easing congestion between the coastal city and London.

The BML2 Consortium is proposing 20km of new railway between Falmer, Lewes and Uckfield, 38km of restored rail line between Uckfield and Hever, and 25km of tunnelled railway linking the whole line to Canary Wharf and Stratford International, representing an investment of more than £6 billion in the South East.

The Government has published the London and South Coast Rail Corridor Study today (Thursday March 2), which investigated the case for improvements to rail links between London and the Sussex Coast.

Although rail minister Paul Maynard said there was ‘no case’ for the Government to take the projects forward, he did suggest they could be delivered through private funding or by the area accepting significant extra housing or commercial developments in the future.

Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas said: “This report is a slap in the face for long suffering passengers. We need real investment in our railways to solve the ongoing crisis.”

Phelim Mac Cafferty, convenor of the Green group at Brighton and Hove City Council, added: “Colossally short-sighted. Brighton and Hove economy needs reliable transport. Existing network won’t withstand another three years yet alone 30.”

The report concludes: “As long as the BML Upgrade proceeds in Network Rail’s proposed timescales, there is no need in capacity terms to start planning for new line solutions (including BML2) for at least 10-20 years.

”There is a poor transport case for reopening the Lewes-Uckfield line, and for introducing National Rail services between Eridge and Tunbridge Wells. For these schemes to proceed, they would need to rely on harnessing the economic growth agenda, not just traditional transport benefits.

“The local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) need to lead on determining how improved regional connections, centred on Lewes-Uckfield, can contribute to economic growth, and how this investment can be funded.”

In a letter to stakeholders Mr Maynard said: “Importantly, the study also examines the case for re-instating formerly closed rail lines (such as the line between Lewes and Uckfield, closed in 1969) and building new links (including the ‘BML2’ concept, which would see a largely new line between the Sussex Coast, central London via Canary Wharf and on to Stansted).

“At present, the study concludes there is no case for the government to take forward development of either of these schemes. It does acknowledge, however, that other interested parties, including local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships, may wish to progress work to improve the viability of such schemes.

“One way that this could be achieved is through local communities accepting significant additional local housing and commercial development.

“In addition, the Transport Secretary has met with promoters of the BML2 concept and encouraged them to continue to develop their proposals for it to be delivered and funded privately.”

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